Is this where the crazies are?


I’ve had a bit of a cold for a few days.  I was supposed to go on a second date with this bloke, but decided I was a bit too rough to go ahead, so cancelled.  I hope he doesn’t think I’m not worth the effort – I do have an unfortunate tendency to cancel plans with my ups and downs healthwise.

I haven’t anything very interesting to say, just wanted to check in.  I was supposed to be going to a pottery taster session, arranged via mental health services in my area, in conjunction with the adult education/library centre.

They lied.

Since I’d decided the date would be too much with my sniffly nose and lack of sparkle, I decided to show up to the pottery session (much more local).  I arrived, late, as usual, and entered a room of people sat in a circle.  I was sure this couldn’t be the right group.  Even when I was told it was “the pottery group” and I was given a seat, I had grave doubts.  Where the f%$k was the clay, the tables, the evidence that any kind of pottery had taken place in this room… ever?  It was one of those plain meeting rooms, adaptable in terms of tables, OPs and so on, but nothing else.

A woman, young, brunette, was talking as I came in and sat down.  She was talking about rice.  Rice?  I felt like I’d walked in halfway through a movie or had blacked out and missed the context of what the hell was happening.  I took a little time to check out the company.

Three or four grizzly looking middle-aged men.  A couple of elderly ladies.  A young boy and girl on my left and several other unremarkable people.  I knew that the group I was supposed to be in were all referrals from the local mental health resource centre.  So I tried to play “guess the MH condition” with the faces.  Could these people all be ill?

This is a very unfair game and one should only play it in the confines of one’s own brain.  Stereotypes tend to be employed in the guessing.  Nevertheless, we all do it, and, given that I was trying to assess whether these people could be mentally ill and therefore that this could be the right group…The lady talking didn’t help at all, since she was talking about grains of rice and some sort of history of rice???

So, the people.  The grizzly middle-aged men.  My guess – alcoholics.  Okay, who else?  The young guy and girl next to me gave nothing away.  Their body language seemed ‘normal’, they looked ‘normal’.  No guess there.  Moving round a guy in my peripheral vision tap-tap-tapping his foot.  Aha!  Could be anxiety?  Or a medication side-effect?  Good.  I’m a detective.  Who else?  Elderly lady.  Hmm.  Difficult.  Make-up applied, well-groomed.  No giveaways.  

After the rice talk, we were taken up to the gallery exhibit.  This was piles of rice with labels to identify what the quantities represented. 

The pottery is next week.  I haven’t decided if I’ll go back.

Addendum:  Okay, I didn’t really ‘get’ the point of the rice thing.  I found it dull, lifeless and not my cup of tea.  I wanted to make pots.  However, in the spirit of giving it a chance, I’ve now looked up some information on the exhibit, which has been round different countries as an art installation.  It’s called Stan’s Cafe and this is a quote from the website:

Of All The People In All The World (UK) uses grains of rice to bring formally abstract statistics to startling and powerful life.

Each grain of rice = one person and you are invited to compare the one grain that is you to the millions that are not.
Over a period of days a team of performers carefully weigh out quantities of rice to represent a host of human statistics

– the populations of towns and cities
– the number of doctors, the number of soldiers
– the number of people born each day, the number who die
– all the people who have walked on the moon
– deaths in the holocaust.

The statistics are arranged in labelled piles creating an ever changing landscape of rice. The statistics and their juxtapositions can be moving, shocking, celebratory, witty and thought provoking.


2 thoughts on “Is this where the crazies are?

  1. As an arty myself, I have to say that the rice non-installation with assorted talking heads was a prime example of Art Spelled With A Capital F.

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